I was really pleased with my final assignment report and relieved that I have moved in the right direction.
I was initially concerned that my prints are a little different, and not in line with the course requirements. I don’t have access to proper printmaking facilities so have had to make do with what I have, but my tutor felt that this worked for me:
“Even though a little of your experimentation was due to ‘workarounds’ due to health issues/lack of facilities, I thought that your final images were much stronger as a result of your having to think outside the box. As artists we are all problem-solvers and you have been a very good problem-solver in this respect, to your own advantage.”
In retrospect I think she is right. It is unlikely that I would have come up with the idea of producing postcard or photograph-sized images without the use of the small shuttlebug embossing machine that I borrowed from my friend, and this also led to the map idea.
My tutor commented that the way I presented the final prints needed consideration as the 21st century folder plus the strong writing underneath detracted from the feel that I was trying to convey, which I completely accept. I decided to trim the original “polaroids” down to remove the writing.
In my sketchbook I had played around with presenting them in a leaf from an old photographic album, I made note of my tutor’s comments as she felt it was:
“…an unusual way of presenting them…I rather like this idea after reading WELLS, L. Photography: A Critical Introduction (2007), 3rd ed. London: Routledge. In this book there is a chapter on personal photographs where Liz Wells refers to curators who used to remove specific photographs from historic albums, however they now realize that it is the whole album which is important and relevant particularly in respect of the chronological order and context in which people placed the images (p.130).”
She also said:
“The key is to get the viewer to buy into the distant past (old artifacts/buried treasure/ long forgotten containers) rather than bring him or her to the present day (contemporary folders).”
She recommended that I continue researching Baudrillard, simulacra and also hyperreality; which I have done. I must admit that I found his writing particularly difficult to understand but after about the fifth time of reading things started to make sense. I have added the detail, where appropriate, into my final assessment submission review.
My tutor’s comments and this research led me to purchasing a second hand photograph album from eBay. Luckily some of the pages were blank with no corners adhered to, so I was able to unpick the stitching and mounted my own work in place.
I wanted to make reference to the Emily Dickinson poem I had found an inspiration: “One need not be a chamber to be haunted” so I wrote two lines out with permanent ink and mounted this on the front. I felt the paper was too stark and bright and not in keeping, so I decided to ‘age’ it with coffee. Pouring hot coffee over the paper and leaving it to soak led to the lettering almost being completely obliterated. I was considering writing over this but instead felt it worked well as it was. It gave the work ambiguity and the fading references the disappearing memories and material absence that I had previously alluded to, it also reminded me of Rauschenberg’s “Erased DeKooning” perhaps I am also being haunted by the ghosts of art history?
I asked my friend Jane and other fellow students for feedback about this format of presentation they understood the reference to memories straight away. Jane said it was nostalgic, mysterious and old and added interest to the final work. I feel that the decision to change the presentation, as per my tutor’s recommendations has led to a more successful outcome.
I was really pleased that my tutor liked my feather gelatin chine colle prints, she said they are:
“subtly showing the delicate and fragmented nature of the person and their memories. “
which is exactly what I intended. I have decided to also include one of these prints into my final submitted works as I feel the process adds something to my portfolio.
My tutor disagreed with the feedback that I had received on the OCA forum that this work was too illustrative as she said:
“I disagree that some of your work is too literal in nature because your underpinning research goes to a much higher level and is much deeper now “
This was a relief to hear because, particularly when producing figurative work, I find it difficult to know the difference between fine art and illustration.
I received positive comments about my map and postcards although, again, I need to consider the way I present these. I decided that a homemade box would work for this. To create an authentic experience for the viewer, I felt a prisoner of war parcel would be a good idea. I viewed images online, which presented a standard format. I created an image in photoshop and printed it out on A4 brown paper.
I worked out the sizes I needed the box to be in order to comfortably fit the contents and found a site online which gave me a working plan. Luckily my husband used to work in distribution and is good at making boxes so he made this for me over the Xmas holidays. I added the printed design onto the lid and felt tying with string was authentic. I think the ‘performance’ of opening the box and finding the contents inside could add to the meanings- the hyperreality of the work as a whole.
My tutor made comment regarding my bibliography, that I need to separate out books / articles etc. but the guidelines from UCA say I shouldn’t do this, so this is something I need to check before submission.
She liked that I had posted my work on the OCA forum for critique and recommended I keep doing this in future courses to get differing perspectives from other students, which is something I am planning to do.
I am pleased that she said that I am beginning to find my voice; this is something I really wanted to get to grips with in this course. I have really enjoyed playing with these objects and bringing them into the 3D plane. It has given me food for thought as to how I can take these ideas forward into my next course. It seems inevitable that absence and memory will form the basis of my personal project and my mind is already ticking over with ideas. I feel quite excited to get going with the next part of my studies.